Kurayami Monogatari

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U-KISS – PaNiC! May 2, 2017

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 5:00 am

panic

Track Listing

  1. PaNiC!
  2. Flying Around The World
  3. U-KISS 2016 One More Shot Mix (Physical only)
  4. PaNiC! (Instrumental)
  5. Flying Around The World (Instrumental)

1. PaNiC!

As the leading track, PaNiC! is quite a track that I was hoping to see more from and they delivered!  The track itself goes back to the group’s earlier efforts with its heavier dance style like in “Bingeul Bingeul” & “Tick Tack”.  The beat is just heavy and in your face and the group while focused on Kevin, Soohyun, and Hoon, the rest of the group manage to pop out left and right to gave a cool performance.  Pretty awesome A-side!

2. Flying Around The World

Though I wasn’t expecting the B-side to be more EDM in its arrangement, but the song itself is a lot more brighter and poppy in comparison.  While it does feel a smidge cheesy and much, the track is catchy too and hearing Kevin & Soohyun is quite nice even if this is repetitive like mad.  Interesting B-side, kind of surprised it won’t make an album…

3. U-KISS 2016 One More Shot Mix

Found only on physical editions of the single, this Mix is actually more like an album digest of “One Shot One Kill”…a 10-minute digest at that.  Though at the same time, none of the tracks sound like their actual album counterparts so there’s that.  It’s just there for some reason and not sure why since the actual album was before this single soooo…why???

 

 

Ending their 2016 and releasing a single before their best-of drops, we have PaNiC! and it’s probably their best single since at least their 2nd Japanese album.  I felt like PaNiC! brought back much needed excitement for the group and Flying Around The World while a bit hammy at times is a nice opposite to the A-side.  Granted, as this single is a promotional single for the best album, it’s curious to see what happens…

Although, figures that in 2017, we get news that Kevin has left the group, so this is his last single with the group…makes me wonder how the group dynamic will shift (maybe Keseop will get some time FINALLY).

 

U-KISS – One Shot One Kill January 20, 2017

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 6:19 am

oneshotonekill

Track Listing

  1. Opening ~in-mono~
  2. CRY BABY
  3. One Shot One Kill
  4. Rock Me
  5. Super Special Lady
  6. Kissing to feel
  7. Interlude ~plug in-plug out~
  8. DON’T BREAK US DOWN
  9. HEART STRINGS ~Ienai Kotoba~
  10. Kimi Dake wo (ALBUM version)
  11. Shining Stars
  12. Illusion
  13. Stay Gold
  14. Ending ~in stereo~

1. Opening ~in-mono~

What a dark and mysterious way to open up an album with repeated descending harp chords and then a march rhythm jumps in with who I think is Jun that takes up the introduction before Eli joins alongside some dance beats and a heavier sound.  After them, Kevin joins in with the melodic part of the track and it just feels like it rising to some climax, but really it kind of just ends.  A 2 minute track, but I KNOW it could’ve been its own full song.

2. CRY BABY

At least the feeling continues into our first new track on the album.  While it doesn’t have a dark atmosphere as the intro, the song itself has a cool dance style that is something U-KISS always seems to excel at and I appreciate the track being as straight to the point as it is.  I really like hearing the main singers (Kevin, Soohyun, and Hoon) just mixing things up and sounding as good as they normally do.  Even Keseop finds himself with some decent lines too!  Even the bridge features some aggressive rapping from both Jun and Eli and that turned out pretty well.  Great way to kick things off!

3. One Shot One Kill

Chosen to promote the album with a PV and such, the title track of the album changes things up a bit being changing from being a full-on K-pop inspired track into something a little funkier and cooler for the group.  I really LOVE the verses where the bass takes center stage behind Kevin & Soohyun and the song just has a fun and sleek vibe that really pulled me in!  Definitely a great choice to promote this album!

4. Rock Me

As the B-side from “Stay Gold”, I was happy to at least the B-side make it (especially seeing “Shining Stars” making it too but we’ll get to that later.  Rock Me is a bit more aggressive in nature due to its more rock-centric arrangement and just punchy beats.  I do like some of the parts like the pre-chorus where the sound lightens up and then once again Eli & Jun seem to REALLY click with one another when they rap one after the other.  It’s just a very powerful song for the group and sticks out amongst the best of the album.

5. Super Special Lady

I was expecting this song to be a ballad due to the kind of cheesiness one brings with such a title.  However, it’s a bit like the last couple tracks, having a dance beat and fun atmosphere akin to “One Shot One Kill”.  I do have to say though, while I did love the vocals here a bit more, the song itself doesn’t really stick to me.  Not bad for a track, but it could’ve been better IMO.

6. Kissing to feel

As the 2nd single released prior to the album’s release, Kissing to feel was THE song that I was missing from the group and I’m happy they prioritized this as a leading track because it’s just edgy and badass almost feeling like the group hitting their stride like they did in “Tick Tack” and “ALONE”.  There’s just something powerful about that chorus that pulled me in so quickly.  Great song overall!

7. Interlude ~plug in-plug out~

A 2 minute interlude comes next and it begins like the intro with the foreboding strings and synth mixture, but it grows into something a little more funkier that sounds like it could’ve been placed before “Stay Gold” if anything.  The jazzy mix and Kevin’s dialogue is interesting, but this does go on or a little too long going into a fade out of the instrumentation towards the end (a long one at that).

8. DON’T BREAK US DOWN

Ah, so while the interlude didn’t really help move onto our next track, I like that DON’T BREAK US DOWN brings the group back to its R&B roots.  Actually, I was surprised I’m hearing a LOT of Kevin in this song (actually I think this is a solo…oh wait Jun is rapping in one section).  I think this song is unique especially for its arrangement and styling and I kind of dug it for the most part!

9. HEART STRINGS ~Ienai Kotoba~

Despite that we had a preview (or well a live version of it) back on the “Kissing to feel” single, we have our studio cut of this ballad!  As this is pretty much your vanilla K-pop-esque ballad here, I was happy to see Hoon up in the front and taking the lines here.  Actually I think it’s a solo for him which we’ve seen before.  I do like the guitar solo during the bridge, but beyond that it’s pretty plain.

10. Kimi Dake wo (ALBUM version)

What I didn’t know was that originally this was Soohyun’s debut A-side that was brought in for this album, apparantly filling it up with some new things.  The opening has a very serene and slightly Disney-like feel.  Actually compared to the original single cut, this was definitely changed for the better as Soohyun’s voice is just pretty to hear in such a setting.  Funny enough, it made “HEART STRINGS” sound like generic trash in comparison.  Definitely the preferred ballad of the album.

11. Shining Stars

Ugh, why did they have to bring this B-side to the album?  I mean it was most of the reason the whole of the “Kissing to feel” single was just in the middle.  Now we have to hear it after “Kimi Dake wo” with is sheer grandness.  Just like I said above, that song is also making this track feel generic and one-dimensional.  It’s like a leftover from “A Shared Dream” and those slower songs also felt a lot bland.  Maybe not the worst song in their discography but definitely one of the most forgettable.

12. Illusion

The last of the new tracks, Illusion continues with the slow jam R&B tracks, but unlike “Shining Stars”, it actually feels more like it follows “DON’T BREAK US DOWN” but without the acoustic or super laidback vibe.  I will say of the new songs, this one kind of felt weak and passes over me.  Didn’t help that Jun’s rap section felt so lifeless too.  Yeah, kind of blah too.

13. Stay Gold

I find it strange they decided to wake up listeners with Stay Gold at the end of the album.  After listening to it more, I’m kind of surprised at how poppy and boyband it comes off.  Luckily since I had time with this and “Action” drifted off and I was able to focus on this only and I still find it slightly uncharacteristic for the group AND its place on the album.

14. Ending ~in-stereo~

So the outro to the album is 3 minutes?  A good length to a full track?  I think its Eli that starts with a monologue (with good pronunciation, might I add) and then he starts to lightly rap to an rolling beat before Kevin sings some lines too a much brighter arrangement.  It could have been a full track and I would’ve been OK with this length…actually it might as well just be a track and not an outro.

Tracks Recommended

  • Kissing to feel
  • CRY BABY
  • Kimi Dake wo (ALBUM version)
  • One Shot One Kill
  • Rock Me

Song of Avoidance

  • Shining Stars

With the group’s hectic schedule of recent (releasing an album a year, only days apart from one another ie: “Memories”, “Action” and now this), I was worried that their rushing for this album would end up poorly and in some ways it sort of did.  The first half, Kimi Dake wo, and DON’T BREAK US DOWN were great songs and showed that spark that got me into U-KISS when they debuted.  The rest of the album though kind of felt flat and I’ve never really thought of the group as good balladeers (especially with who produces them most of the time) and the ballads, minus Soohyun’s were generic as hell and Stay Gold had nowhere to fit BUT the end…Either way, now that we officially know that AJ is gone from the group, I think the 6-nin group is pretty good and gel well with one another.

 

U-KISS – Kissing to feel May 26, 2016

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 5:26 am

kissingtofeel

Track Listing

  1. Kissing to feel
  2. Shining Stars
  3. HEART STRINGS ~Ienai Kotoba~ (LIVE version) (CD only)
  4. Kissing to feel (Instrumental)
  5. Shining Stars (Instrumental)

1. Kissing to feel

It feels like it’s been forever since U-KISS released a strong upbeat A-side and Kissing to feel is giving me all the feels.  I mean the song is typically so with Soohyun, Kevin, and Hoon at the leads, but I feel like the other 3 members do make their appearance in the track.  Actually I have to say this song is one of their bests in quite a long while, with it’s strong dance beat and powerful vocals.  Yeah, quite nice to see them return to form!

2. Shining Stars

Though, I suppose we needed to counteract the awesome song with an amazingly cheesy song.  It screams bad boyband of the 90s ballads with the contrived beats and twinkles and such.  Even Eli and Jun couldn’t exactly save the song with light rapping.  I mean it’s not really in the same kind of levels as their older ballads have been, where’s the stuff they were pulling back in Korea?  This was just not my cup of tea.

3. HEART STRINGS ~Ienai Kotoba~ (LIVE version)

Strange that the single’s exclusive track is for a song that hasn’t appeared in their discography yet, but here we are with HEART STRINGS and honestly, it slightly shakes off that bitter taste I had with “Shining Stars”.  Hearing the 6 live is always a treat as they bring it in their performances and they didn’t disappoint with this live.  The song (which is going to be on their upcoming album) is like their older tunes and has a lot of Hoon (actually it’s only Hoon).  Huh, well at least he’s a great singer for the group and shows it off here in this live take!

 

 

Being the 2nd and final single before their “One Shot One Kill” album drops, Kissing to feel is an interesting single to say the least.  It’s been a while since an A-side a WOW-ed me and Kissing to feel is such a cool and aggressive song that I’ve been missing from them for quite a while.  Though its B-side, Shining Stars is just bad and cheesy and just not right for the group, they’ve done so much better than this song.  As for the Hoon solo, nice song, but we all know Hoon is amazing, give Keseop or Jun something to work with.  I will say that I’m looking forward to the album!

 

U-KISS – Stay Gold September 17, 2015

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 5:45 am

staygold

Track Listing

  1. Stay Gold
  2. Rock Me
  3. Action (Live version) (Regular only)
  4. Stay Gold (Instrumental)
  5. Rock Me (Instrumental)

1. Stay Gold

Not sure what I was getting into with Stay Gold, but why do I get reminded of Stephanie’s “Winter Gold”?  Yah, the song has this very happy-go-lucky sound (almost wintry feel ironically).  It’s kind of cheesy though and while the vocals are decent as always, I think the kind of shiny, brightness this song has kind of turned me away, plus we’ve just had a song that was a bit similar, “Action”.  Not that great sadly.

2. Rock Me

At least the B-side makes up for a rather disappointing A-side.  I’m loving the angrier sound this has and lets Jun and Eli have a stronger punch in the group.  Plus we brought back the cool vocals from the remaining 4 members which is always something draws me back to the group.  Very cool song overall and REALLY sad it wasn’t the main track of the single!

3. Action (Live version)

Kind of sucks that Action also appears here but a live version found on regular onlys (typical).  Of course not much can be said about the group’s performance that I haven’t said before on previous live performances of their songs but I do still enjoy this song a lot and a live setting really suited everyone here!

As they begin a new era in Japan, U-KISS aren’t really slowing down on their releases and sadly Stay Gold is probably my least favorite of recent times.  The song feels rather uncharacteristic for the group (though it seems they’ve been going through an odd transitional period between Japan and Korea with recent releases.  Rock Me though is pretty badass and sticks out a lot more than I expected.  Also, Action is good live too!  Overall, it’s an OK single, but I kind of expect more on the next one.

 

U-KISS – Action July 6, 2015

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 6:30 am

action

Track Listing

  1. Black hole ~Intro~
  2. FEEL IT
  3. LOVE ON U
  4. Action
  5. Sweetie
  6. If…
  7. Brave
  8. JACKPOT
  9. Head Up High
  10. One Call Away
  11. Mou Ichido
  12. You are the reason ~Ending~
  13. U-KISS 2015 Associate Mix (CD only bonus track)

1. Black hole ~Intro~

The album opens up with a lengthy 2 minute introduction, but I feel like it would’ve been amazing if it was a full song because it’s very uptempo and has a good sense of rhythm.  Seems like the rappers do take the front at least which is pretty awesome since we’re still getting accustomed to Jun.  It’s a nice start to the album, just wish it was a full track hahaha.

2. FEEL IT

Which leads to the B-side from “LOVE ON U” and I’m OK with that because I definitely was in love with the song more than the A-side!  From the darker atmosphere and smokier vocals from Hoon, Kevin, and Soohyun really held the song on a pretty high line and loved every moment.  Even when Jun and Eli join in, their rapping sections just added that more spice to make things cooler!  Great track to kick things off!

3. LOVE ON U

Which leads into said A-side that begun the album era, LOVE ON U was also the Japanese debut for Jun and ironically he opens up the tune!  Though that’s really all we hear from him as the usual suspects makes their presence known and Eli takes up the rapping section.  Unlike the EDM in “FEEL IT”, LOVE ON U is a bit more sultry and tackles more of their R&B side of their music.  It’s not a bad song though, pretty ok middle song.

4. Action

As the leading promotional song, Action was a lot brighter than I had hoped it would turn out.  Notice the album cover and imagine it with a breezy upbeat light song and you have Action.  Honestly, I felt like I was listening to a OST song from them hahaha!  It has been a while since U-KISS did a happy-go-lucky song such as this so it was a nice change of pace, but I don’t feel like it was the best of choices?  I do like the even line distribution and all and Keseop~.  It’s cute though I’ll give it that.

5. Sweetie

Then we move to the other single released for the era with Sweetie and it was the ballad A-side.  Sounds like they worked and slowed things from “Action” quite nicely.  As a Christmas song, Sweetie is ok, but not really all that memorable in their strings of ballads, but the harmonizations and emotions behind Kevin, Soohyun, and Hoon’s voice is pretty stellar, even I admit!

6. If…

Moving onto its B-side, If… had such potential in the beginning with the synth melody and very soundscapey-background sounds, but then it doesn’t really head anywhere besides having such nice harmonizations like in “Sweetie”, also Jun’s rap is somewhat deadpan here haha.  It’s trying to be a strings-based dance track, but I feel like it lacks in places throughout.

7. Brave

Back onto new songs, Brave seems to be a little more like a mix between “If…” and “Action”.  Though, the kind of 90’s pop sound that I got from this song really stood out to me.  Once again, the 3 main singers really stood out to me in this song as it really opened up the song to really showcase their vocals.  Of course, Keseop gets a nice line too which is surprise and I’m trying to focus where Eli and Jun lie here as they kind of sat back for this one.  I definitely think it’s a much better ballad than “Sweetie” was!

8. JACKPOT

Oh those trap hi-hats huh?  I’m surprised as it started off kind of synthy but quickly moves into this heavier guitar-laced arrangement on top of Eli’s rapping.  It does seem really weird coming after “Brave” but this song sounds pretty edgy and has a certain vibe to it that I enjoy about it.  I could also hear a certain idea of what it could be without the brazen guitars, but honestly this song is pretty cool, but coming after the previous track, it’s just a little strange.

9. Head Up High

So the next two songs are bolded pretty much because they were sold together as a tour single so it kind of counts, right?  Another upbeat synth track, Head Up High was something I was hoping U-KISS would release as they haven’t had a cool dance track.  Sung only by Hoon, Keseop, Eli, and Jun, the tune is pretty catchy and I could easily make this a favorite.  Also, Jun has a solid deep voice on him wows!

10. One Call Away

Which leaves Kevin and Soohyun with the other track and unsurprisingly it’s another ballad (when will these two do an upbeat track together?).  It’s a simple sounding ballad with some bass and piano together.  Sadly, the song just doesn’t do anything for me in the long run as it’s pretty basic (though Kevin’s high note was a surprise).

11. Mou Ichido

Another ballad?  Yup, Mou Ichido comes next and it’s just “One Call Away” with some strings and some R&B elements thrown on top.  Though I’m not surprised that Soohyun is leading the track though which is a bit meh as we just had a lot of his voice in the previous track.  Actually, I have a feeling it’s only him singing which is bringing my interest even further down.

12. You are the reason ~Ending~

Seems like the ending track is at full length at 3:32.  It mentions the black hole from the opening (thanks to a monologue from Eli).  Then comes the singing with some stronger percussion as well…at this point the slower songs seem to drag further and beyond Eli’s section, I wasn’t remember much of the rest of the tune.

13. U-KISS 2015 Associate Mix

But the album isn’t over yet!, the album actually ends with a medley of the songs from the album (which is at this point so unusual to hear).  Not exactly the best thing to include on CD only as it just reminds you of what you just heard not 5 seconds ago!

Tracks Recommended

  • Brave
  • FEEL IT
  • Head Up High
  • JACKPOT

Song of Avoidance

  • Mou Ichido

Released a day short of a year after their last album, “Memories”, Action marks as the first album with their new member Jun and I don’t know where I stand with it.  A definitely lighter trip than their last album for sure, but I don’t feel like there was much depth with this one.  A lot of ballads caused the album to kind of crash at the end of the album for sure.  There’s just not a lot to say about this one, not one of their better albums.

 

U-KISS – Sweetie June 4, 2015

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 10:59 pm

sweetie

Track Listing

  1. Sweetie
  2. If…
  3. Shape of your heart (U-KISS JAPAN TOUR 2014 version) (CD only bonus track)
  4. Sweetie (Instrumental)
  5. If… (Instrumental)

1. Sweetie

I would suppose that makes Sweetie their Christmas song because this was released in December.  As an A-side, the song is a bit corny to listen to but I kind of like the synths used here and the harmonizations (beyond how much Soohyun and Kevin) are here is really nice to hear.  For a ballad, it’s a bit more memorable than previous endeavors…still slightly chintsy though lmao.

2. If…

As for the B-side, If… took more after the dance-pop feel (kind of reminds me of some other songs in the same genre) sadly it really doesn’t grow too much until after the Jun/Eli rap section (which by the way are pretty awkward since it transitions into the chorus.  I feel like the song is trying to grow into a strong dance track, but stays too long by dragging the growth of it.  It does finally get itself together and becomes a nice mid-tempo track the rest of the way…but the beginning section was dragging a bit.

3. Shape of your heart (U-KISS JAPAN TOUR 2014 version)

Of course they’d close the single out with a live version of an older song, this time with Shape of your heart.  I mean it’s a good live performance and each of the members sound strong in the song…not much else to say about this one.

As the 2nd and last single before ther 4th album, “Action” releases, I feel like Sweetie was a weird single.  I don’t know what happened but I wasn’t connecting to either original songs much.  Sweetie is a nice love song, but the arrangement made it so cheesy and overabundant of the whole Xmas sound.  If… dragged in the beginning and it didn’t build itself very well to a powerful song.  The live performance is good though as expected.  I just wonder how this album will stack up.

 

U-KISS – MONO SCANDAL September 19, 2014

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 4:21 am

monoscandal

Track Listing

  1. Kkiburijima
  2. Hana
  3. Dasi Naegero Wajwo
  4. Neo Eopsineun Andwae
  5. Kkiburijima (INST.)
  6. Dasi Naegero Wajwo (INST.)

1. Kkiburijima

So the leading track on the mini, Don’t Flirt (the title’s meaning) is a really cool slow jam and has a cool, laidback groove to it that really emcompasses such a sexy and mature style that almost makes me think I’m listening to porn music XD.  I really dug it though and all of the members sounded good!  Though I will have to mention Jun.  As the newest member of U-KISS (and evidently replaced Dongho and currently AJ), his voice is really deep and his raps are smooth like syrup.  Though 17 and in a risque video like this?  Wow!  I wouldn’t say this is their best leading song (but I’m seriously waiting for an epic dance track from them), this was a killer song and definitely shows off their cool sides.

2. Hana

So the next track is a lowkey R&B ballad, Hana and I really liked how every member got one significant section to sing which is pretty cool.  Even Jun and Eli had their own rapping parts (Interesting to note that Jun did his in all English).  I mean arrangement-wise, this is nothing new, but I felt like this managed to bring the vocalists together as a group and they sung beautifully.

3. Dasi Naegero Wajwo

The same can be said about the third minus the R&B elements.  Another ballad that features a LOT of solos between the members and we get to hear Jun sing and he’s impressive here.  Otherwise it’s more of the same vocals and style which didn’t do too much.  Although, Kiseop was really underutilized here…that sucks bunches.

4. Neo Eopsineun Andwae

The final track begins with a busy signal from a phone before it kind of turns into this mid-tempo R&B track, but not as sensual as the leading track.  There’s something nice about this song actually and I think it was just how smooth and fitting everyone was in the song.  Still bummed at Kiseop only lines are repeats of one another, but over it’s a really smooth song and Hoon can really do these songs justice.

 

 

Caught up finally!  Anyways, after the news between losing AJ once again to college and the addition of Jun, we finally got out first taste with MONO SCANDAL and overall, this release was missing some punch.  I mean Kkiburijima was definitely an upgrade over the releases for “MOMENTS” but still not the badasses I was kind of expecting.  The remainder of the mini-album just kind of slid by me without much of an impact.  As for Jun, he fits in quite nicely in the group and his rapping is cool and his singing impressive.  Makes me wonder how they’ll sound once AJ returns.